John Ramsden worked for the British Embassy in Hanoi between 1980 -1982, when the country was completely isolated and impoverished after decades of war.
In his spare time he explored the city and its surroundings. He found a city of great character, far from the Asian Sparta of wartime stereotypes. Despite all the upheavals of war and revolution, people still lived against the backdrop of an ancient culture. His photographs record a way of life as yet untouched by globalisation, austere and self-reliant. The life of the streets, markets, temples and surrounding villages is portrayed in images of wistful beauty.
Thirty years later John finally took his photographs out of storage, for a small exhibition at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, to celebrate the 2010 Millennium of Hanoi.
In May 2013 there was a larger exhibition in London: ‘Hanoi Spirit of Place’ , organised by Vietpro and KREU, two groups from the Vietnamese community.
This led in October 2016 to a book published in Vietnamese only – Hanoi Mot Thoi (ed. Nha Nam).
The present book, Hanoi after the War, is a completely revised and expanded version, adapted to the needs of an international readership.
The negatives will eventually go to the British Library for permanent preservation.